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Sewers Versus Sidewalks

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Washington Street Extension

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Buttonwood Subdivision

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Buttonwood Subdivision

By John T. Ryan

Peru – A proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Town of Peru and Buttonwood subdivision developer Donald Swain would exempt Swain from including sidewalks in the next phase of his development. The matter is on the Monday, June 26th Peru Town Board meeting agenda.

While the MOU’s details have not been released, its primary provisions involve Swain deeding land to the town of sufficient size to construct a much-needed sewage lift station to service his subdivision. Swain would also provide subdivision walking access to Sullivan Park. The town would agree to not require sidewalks when Swain develops 20 lots north of Winding Brook Drive.

At the board’s June 12th meeting Town Supervisor Peter Glushko indicated that he is satisfied with the MOU. He noted that sidewalks weren’t required for Buttonwood’s first phase and sidewalks in the next phase wouldn’t be connected to any existing sidewalks. He said, “They would lead to nowhere.”  Glushko is also very concerned with the costs to be incurred upgrading the aging sewer system. Grants are being sought; however, substantial costs will undoubtedly be incurred by the district’s 552 users.

At the June 12th meeting, Peru resident John Ryan (this reporter) expressed the opinion that sidewalks are important in a family-oriented subdivision. Families appreciate the safety they offer to children within the subdivision even if not connected to other sidewalks. Sidewalks also conform to the Peru Comprehensive Plan’s goal of making the town more pedestrian friendly. Ryan cited the Washington Street Extension as an example. The street has attracted several young families;  the children play safely on the sidewalk; and the homes are among the most salable in Peru.

Ryan also asked if the Planning Board had been consulted and if the MOU would preclude Planning Board action to require  sidewalks when Swain begins to develop the lots.  The Planning Board had not been consulted and Town Attorney Matt Favro said he believed the MOU would negate any Planning Board attempt to require sidewalks.

Peru Gazette attempts to contact Donald Swain were not answered; however, developer George Barnett Jr. described the dilemma local developers face. He said, “To construct a 500 foot cul-de-sac for four lots would cost $20,000 per lot just for development. If you have to sit on the land for any amount of time you’re going to lose money.” Property values in Peru have remained stable over the past 15 to 20 years while development costs have drastically increased.

As for sidewalks, Barnett said, “I think sidewalks are an improvement, but I think they should be done at the town’s expense. The town should be working with developers. Developed property will bring the town much more revenue than vacant land.”

Planning Board Chairman Richard Williams said he had not been informed of the proposed MOU.  He commented, “We like the idea of sidewalks.  We required the Washington Street Extension developer to include sidewalks. He originally wanted to paint a line on the highway to designate a walking zone.”

Planning Board Member and former Comprehensive Planning Board Committee member Adele Douglas said, “I definitely favor sidewalks when traffic is an issue. I’m not so sure inside a residential development.” She said a consultant told the Comprehensive Planning Committee that residential development is trending toward fewer paved surfaces because of runoff and environmental issues. She pointed out that Peru zoning law requires sidewalks in the hamlet, but does not require them outside the hamlet. Buttonwood is not designated as being in the hamlet. Note related article.  The need for sidewalks is often debated (2015 article) 

Comments

Comment from Sandra Gagnier
Time June 25, 2017 at 10:20 pm

This is all fine and dandy, but when these people decided to build all these expensive houses, they knew there were no sidewalks, etc. I’m in favor of fixing, if not completely redesigning the sidewalks we have already in place. The Town won’t be happy until someone falls and really hurts themselves and sues them for the condition of the broken and uneven walks.

Comment from Marian Peters
Time July 9, 2017 at 5:37 pm

I believe every street needs sidewalks for the safety of pedestrian and our children. However, the sidewalks on Main Street, Pleasant, North Bend, North Main are the same that needed repair when I was a youngster growing up in this town. We do need to maintain what we already have.

Comment from James Neyenhouse
Time July 17, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Why have the sidewalks in the village been allowed to be so bad for so long? As I think about it, a part of walking anywhere in the village has always included maneuvering tricky sidewalk terrain somewhere. We do need to repair the sidewalks that we have first (once and for all).

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